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Every year there are new plants introduced to gardeners throughout the world. Many of the new plants carry the initials AAS. AAS stands for All America Selection, which is an award given to plants for exceptional growth throughout the United States. Each year hundreds of plants are planted and rated at various test gardens spread sporadically across the U.S. The plants that performed the best are selected as the All America Selection winners. These plants usually carry a gold emblem with the initials AAS on it. The new AAS winners for 2013 are as follows:
• Canna “South Pacific Scarlet”
This variety is grown from seed, not tuber. Compact in habit and well suited for both landscape and container use. Canna 'South Pacific Scarlet' prefers warm and humid conditions over 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This variety is more vigorous, more uniform, and has more basal branching than Canna Tropical Red.
• Echinacea “Cheyenne Spirit”
This stunning first-year flowering Echinacea captures the spirit of the North American plains by producing a delightful mix of flower colors from rich purple, pink, red and orange tones to lighter yellows, creams and white. This wide range of flower colors on well branched, durable plants are sure to please the color preferences of any gardener. As an added bonus, ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ does not require a lot of water and offers a wide range of uses from the perennial border, in a mass landscape planting, in a butterfly garden or as a cut flower.
• Geranium “Pinto Premium White to Rose”
This addition to the “Pinto Premium” series is a must-have! Not only is the flower coloration unique and ombre-like, but the numerous five-inch blooms are long-lasting in the garden. Petals start out white then deepen to rose-pink as flowers mature, giving an attractive bicolor effect. Dense, well-branched plants sport deep green leaves with darker zones that contrast beautifully with the light colored flowers. 'Pinto Premium White to Rose' is a great choice for carefree, colorful summer garden beds or patio containers.
• Melon “Melemon”
The earliness, high yield on healthy, strong plants and superior taste all contributed to this melon becoming an AAS Winner. Judges related the taste of this melon to honeydew, but with a surprising and delicious tanginess. A uniform fruit shape makes it perfect for market growers as well as home gardeners. Each personal-sized fruit has refreshing crisp flesh and a unique sweet-tart taste.
• Tomato “Jasper”
Excellent taste, a long harvest window and outstanding performance in the trials contribute to this tomato’s success. Judges liked the texture and sweetness of the tomato as well as the uniformity of the fruits that grow on vigorous, healthy plants. Jasper is a high yielding variety with fruits that stay on the vine and then hold well after ripening both on the vine and post-harvest. Vigorous vines require little or no fertilization. An added bonus is fusarium resistance and the ability to overcome weather-related stresses.
• Watermelon “Harvest Moon”
The first ever hybrid, triploid seedless watermelon to win a coveted AAS Award! Similar to the popular heirloom variety, “Moon and Stars,” Harvest Moon is an improvement in that it features healthy, shorter vines that produce medium-sized fruits and sweet, crisp pinkish-red flesh. Harvest Moon retains the familiar dark green rind with yellow dots, like that of ‘Moon and Stars’ but is seedless, earlier to ripen, higher yielding and better tasting. As one judge said, “What’s not to like?"
• Zinnia “Profusion Double Deep Salmon”
Profusion Double Deep Salmon features intensely vibrant, deep pink-orange flowers with double petals. Like other Profusion Zinnias, Deep Salmon flowers continuously from spring through frost and is easy to grow. It is self-cleaning, disease resistant and grows well in a range of climates, including areas with high night temperatures. The flowers can grow 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter and plants grow 14 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
• Zinnia “Profusion Double Hot Cherry”
This award winner features rich rose, double petalled blooms that cover flower continuously from spring through frost. The bright color does not fade, even under high temperatures. Like all Profusion, Double Hot Cherry is easy to grow as it is self-cleaning, disease resistant and grows well in a wide range of climates, including areas with high night temperatures. The flowers can grow 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter and plants grow 8 to 14 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
Out of the new All America winners the Echinacea “Cheyenne Spirit” caught my eye in the catalogues because of the different colors and the fact that it can bloom from first years sowing. I don’t know if you have purchased coneflower plants lately but they are expensive and the new colors don’t seem to overwinter well here and they don’t come back from seed! If Cheyenne Spirit is as good as advertised I will be extremely happy. And just so you know I purchased seeds and I believe a packet was around $5 and it had 15 seeds in it and to date I have 14 plants germinated under my grow light. The heat mat is set at 75 degrees. Happy gardening!